Articles Posted in Nursing Home Attorneys

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Harmful Medication Overuse Often First Line of Defense for Managing Behaviorally Challenged Nursing Home Residents

There is excessive and unnecessary use of antipsychotics and psychoactive medications in U.S. nursing homes. These powerful drugs are sometimes given to patients living in long-term care facilities to calm behaviors associated with behavior disruptions and mental health illnesses. Antipsychotics can be so powerful that they sedate residents to the point where they become listless and unresponsive. Residents may be slumped in chairs or unable to get up from bed; they may no longer participate in activities like feeding themselves or engaging in routines they enjoy, or even talk with their loved ones. They are also overly-prescribed to residents who may be marked unruly or disruptive or when staff feel overworked and unable to support and service all residents due to understaffing or high turnover rates. Care teams will seek out specific medications that make patients with these issues easier to handle – or sadly, just to quiet them and make them lethargic and sleepy. Nursing home doctors have also been caught on relying heavily on the recommendation of nurses and other care staff when making these medication decisions.

  • According to the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, more than half of atypical antipsychotic medications that affect at least 105,000 nursing home residents annually are being incorrectly paid for by Medicare, despite the drugs being deemed ineffective and potentially dangerous for the elderly population.

Identifying Heat-Related Stress and Dehydration Injuries in Nursing Home Populations During the Summer Months

When you help your loved one find a nursing home, you should feel it is a safe place no matter their risk factors for injury and illness. The facility staff members should be trusted to care for your relatives and friends and protect them from harm. However, extreme weather events, including high temperatures, can be particularly tough on a neglected senior population. And unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear stories of elderly individuals in dire situations who face severe injury or even die due to elevated hot temperatures and poor air-cooling options.

But elder community members most at risk are not always those living alone and without extensive social networks. They could also be those who rely on nursing homes and long-term care to keep them cool and safe. And when those in charge fail, and facilities don’t train staff to notice heat exhaustion or dehydration warning signs, the risk of a heat-related injury is high. As a result, facilities must invest in keeping cooling equipment, and doors, and windows well-maintained, so that the potential for hot rooms with uncomfortable conditions never presents itself in the first place.

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Candida Auris Is an Invasive Fungi That is Spreading in Health Care Settings and Proving to Be Drug-Resistant

On Thursday, July 22, 2021, U.S. health officials presented evidence that an untreatable fungus is now spreading in two Dallas-area hospitals and inside a nursing home located in Washington, D.C. Candida auris is a super bacterium the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deems an urgent threat. The fungus is extremely difficult to eradicate even with hospital-grade disinfectants and response plans, reminding health care leaders yet again why infection control is so critical in maintaining healthy human populations

Just as awful, commonly used drugs have little effect on abolishing the super fungus. Moreover, a resistant class of drugs, called echinocandins, once considered a last line of defense, is even useless in some cases, allowing Candida auris to spread quickly among healthcare-reliant populations. 

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Nursing Home Workers Should Report Social Media Posts That Violate Residents’ Rights

Nursing home employees are crucial in helping identify violators of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, including the reporting of other workers who choose to document and publish these unforgiveable acts on popular social media platforms. If you are aware of any harassing video, photo, story, or mention of resident abuse, invasion of resident privacy, or proof of neglect posted to a social networking site such as TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, or through a message, group text, or in an online community, there are several things you can do to report what you have seen.

The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti strongly encourage you to:

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Illinois Lawmakers Introduce “COVID-19 Safety Net” Bill Until In-Person Visitation Resumes

There have been over 70,000 positive COVID-19 cases in Illinois nursing homes and over 10,300 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began. Sadly, nearly half of the state’s total death count has been nursing home residents. Many were never able to see their loved ones in person or say goodbye to them before they passed as almost all residents and their family members were prevented from visits for some time. Although the pause was likely necessary to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious virus, it also triggered concerns of abuse and neglect going unnoticed and a call from industry advocates to do more.

Most families have been forced to use or purchase personal devices for residents, but the failure to coordinate the calls showed how ill-equipped homes and staff are. Sadly, regular calls are not a reality for most Illinois long-term care residents. For some of the luckier residents, virtual visits were enough to keep their loved ones knowing they are being looked after, especially those with cognitive disabilities such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s disease.

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Report Shows Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gravely Affected Resident Exposure to COVID-19 at LaSalle Nursing Home

The Illinois Department of Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released its investigative report identifying the causes behind the massive COVID-19 outbreak in the fall of 2020 at the state-run veterans’ Home in LaSalle. The long-awaited public report confirms what many of us already know and outlines the unforgiving failures that resulted in the untimely death of 36 people from coronavirus. Notes published by the OIG show that the facility did not implement the proper infection control policies to prevent the spread of the disease among staff and residents and allowed a deadly outbreak to go on despite warnings. 

The report paints a gloomy picture that documents failures from many. It leads with, “Ultimately, our investigation determined that the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ (IDVA) lack of COVID-19 preparation contributed to the scope of the outbreak at the home. In addition, failures in communication at the home and within the IDVA leadership also contributed to a delayed response to the outbreak.”

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New Federal Guidelines Expand Visitation Options in Some Illinois Nursing Homes, Families Should Lookout for Signs of Abuse or Neglect

Although the risk of COVID-19 transmission within nursing homes and other long-term care facilities has been high, related outbreaks and deaths in nursing homes are down, according to a report by The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. And with many facilities now operating with residents fully vaccinated, in-person nursing home visits are being allowed at some senior living facilities in Illinois.

According to the updated guidance released on March 10, 2021, from CMS, facilities can now allow responsible indoor visitation for all residents unless specific scenarios arise that would limit visitation options, such as an increase in community infections. The updated CDC’ visitation guidance recommends long-term care facilities follow these specific guidelines:

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Part 2: Illinois Nursing Homes with High COVID-19 Case Numbers

(Facilities M thru Z)

Not only are elderly groups at a high risk of being infected by — and dying from — the coronavirus, many people linked to nursing homes also die at a higher rate than the general population. At least 152,000 coronavirus deaths have been reported among residents and employees of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States since the pandemic began in February 2020. The virus has now infected more than 1,234,000 people at some 31,000 facilities nationwide. And the total number of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infections among Illinois residents in all long-term care facilities, not just outbreaks, is 73,286 cases and 9,571 deaths.

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Part 1: Illinois Nursing Homes with High COVID-19 Case Numbers

(Facilities A thru L)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 40% of coronavirus deaths nationwide have occurred in long-term care facilities. And numbers show more than half of Illinois COVID-19 infections have occurred at nursing homes, while 43% of all COVID-19 deaths are tied to a long-term care facility. Using Illinois Department of Public Health data (Feb. 9, 2021), the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti have released the first part of a two-post series listing statewide long-term care facilities (beginning with A thru L). The list includes nursing homes and rehabilitation centers with a reported high number of cases connected to COVID-19 infections, outbreaks, and residents’ deaths since the pandemic began nearly one year ago.

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Nursing Homes Do Not Have a Right to Resident Stimulus Funds

Unfortunately, financial abuse is a common problem in nursing homes across the country, including right here in Illinois. And after thousands of reports to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), we now know that some nursing home facilities and long-term care homes are attempting to take pandemic stimulus payments intended for residents. Residents who rely on Medicaid remain easy and effortless targets even though these facilities have no right to claim residents’ stimulus checks.

The FTC said in a January 4, 2021 statement:

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